2023 Trends in the Korean Publishing Market and 2024 Forecast
2023 Trends: Growth in self-help, comics, and parenting books
As the COVID-19 pandemic turned endemic in the spring of 2023, travel books saw a resurgence in popularity. The popularity of anime such as Slam Dunk has led to increased sales of manga, and popular YouTubers have joined the publishing market using manga characters. In addition, books by popular writers for grown-up readers, such as physicist Kim Sang-Wook, have been transformed into children’s educational comics.
In addition, despite recording the world’s lowest birth rate, the popularity of books on raising children in Korea has increased. While the market for marriage, family, pregnancy, and childbirth has decreased, the market for parenting and child education has grown, reflecting the changes in Korean society. Notable titles include The Child Who Eventually Succeeds Has a Different Emotional Intelligence (Whale Books) by Kim So-Yeon, a former elementary school teacher in Seattle, US, and Choi Min-Joon’s Son Coaching Encyclopedia (Wisdom House), which addresses the concerns of all parents on how to raise boys.
The Child Who Eventually Succeeds Has a Different Emotional Intelligence and
The most distinctive trend in the Korean publishing market in 2023 is the unprecedented rise of self-help books. In the midst of rapid social change, younger readers looking for a compass for life, wealth, success, and wisdom have turned their attention to books about “how to live well” by self-made experts and famous YouTubers. According to Korea’s largest online and offline bookstore, Kyobo Bookstore, self-help books accounted for the top 3 bestsellers, with 15 in the top 100. The year-on-year sales growth rate of self-help books at Kyobo Bookstore increased from 18.0% in 2022 to 20.8% in 2023, and the proportion of sales revenue of self-help books continued to increase from 3.8% in 2021, 4.4% in 2022, and 5.4% in 2023. The strength of practical books is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
SayNo Love, A Store that Opens on Rainy Days, I Do Not Bid Farewell, and May Your Day Be Warm
In the field of humanities, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and Dopamine Nation, which highlighted the concentration problems of modern people, and books by popular writers such as A Man of Liberal Arts Studies Science by Rhyu Si-Min and Yoo Hyun-Joon’s Humanistic Architecture (Eulyoo Publishing) were steadily popular. In the field of economic management, financial books such as An Introduction to Business Management (Snowfox Books) by Kim Seung-Ho and Jang Ha-Joon’s Edible Economics (Bookie) stood out. In the field of children’s books, educational books with quizzes and riddles were in the spotlight.
Yoo Hyun-Joon’s Humanistic Architecture, An Introduction to Business Management, Jang Ha-Joon’s Edible Economics, and Beyond The Story
Growing digital content
In contrast to the stagnation of the paperback publishing market, the Korean e-book, audiobook, webnovel, and webtoon market has been growing every year. While it is difficult to provide accurate yearly market size statistics, it is clear that digital content is on the rise. According to a report titled “Survey on the Current Status of the Webnovel Industry in 2022,” published by the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) in 2023, the webnovel market was estimated to be worth 1.39 trillion won in 2022. Large portal sites Naver and Kakao are the leading players, each accounting for about 40% of the market, followed by e-book specialist Ridi with 10%. The number of users of mobile apps for webnovel services was about 5.87 million. Readers read series or completed works in the romance, fantasy, and mystery genres daily or three to four times a week, and there were many habitual readers who read an average of 30 minutes to an hour at night.
Top 10 Worldwide Comic Book App Revenue Rankings from January to October 2023
Source: Sensor Tower Inc. (December 2023), “2023 Global Comic Book App Market Insights”
Meanwhile, according to Statistics Korea’s “Online Shopping Trends Survey,” the year-on-year sales decline of online bookstores has been ongoing since the third quarter of 2022. Despite the fact that the non-face-to-face economy and online shopping, which grew significantly in 2020 and 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic, are showing a downward trend in the publishing market, there are concerns about the shrinkage of the paperback publishing market given the large share of online bookstores in the Korean publishing market.
(KRW 1 Million)
Source: Statistics Korea (December 2023), Online Shopping Trends Survey data
2024 Forecast: Reading horizons expand in the Year of Children’s Books
Korean publishing market’s core sectors, such as study guides and books for the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), self-help books and practical books on finance and language, mind-healing novels and comforting essays for weary modern people, and educational books that serve as companions for raising children, as well as the fandom phenomenon associated with famous writers and influencers, are likely to continue unchanged in the new year.
Written by Baek Won-Keun (President of the Books & Society Research Institute)
#2024 Forecast#Self-help#Digital content#Year of Children’s Books